Are Family & Friends Driving You Nuts, Grilling You About Your Health Decisions? Here Are 6 Ways To Handle That Stress…
When you get that cancer diagnosis (or any diagnosis), it’s no easy thing. I know–there’s SO MUCH to deal with. Huge decisions to make. And on top of all this, our family, our friends…they often wanna jump right in. They’ve gotta help…with suggestions, advice, with any and everything they can offer.
I get it. It’s because they’re concerned. They love us. They want to protect us. So yeah, they slip into “worry mode” if they hear about your cancer or any disease—it’s a natural reaction. And there’s nothing wrong with getting solid advice that may help when you’re dealing with unexpected and yes, scary health challenges.
So what do you do if your family or friends are overstepping?
Overstepping, meaning if they’re going overboard–even questioning your every move? What if they’re suddenly “not on board” with the health treatments you’ve chosen? Well, I’d say it’s time to get things out in the open ASAP. Their “overstepping” could be triggering major stress for you. You and I both know how STRESS damages in a huge way–and that’s an understatement.
After this cancer diagnosis, as the years passed, I started to see that we may sometimes have a family member or friend that won’t quite understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
Who may even disagree with our decisions--and make it known.
If this happens, I say, stay strong. Stand your ground. And try not to let it get you down.
Don’t Let Yourself Become Discouraged
Even though you’re standing firm and making your own choices, those days come when it can be frustrating. Exhausting. And at times you may even wonder–okay, so how do I put a lid on this crazy opposition? How do I handle them–any friends or family who won’t support my decisions? The ones who are thinking I’m crazy? That I’m just an irrational loony who won’t listen to my doctors?
So here’s what I came up with, what I think are 6 pretty good ways to handle this situation:
1. Be honest about your feelings–right away.
I’d say it’s best to be upfront, direct and let your friend or family member know that they can’t interfere.
Just remember–you’re the one with cancer (or heart disease, autoimmune disorder, whatever ailment it is). And taking control of your own health is a huge challenge. It needs your focus, dedication and all of your strength. What they can (and should) offer is their support and understanding, no matter what you decide to do. Choosing what treatments you feel are best for you–that’s your right.
--Nita Riggs Samuels
"Your health belongs to you. You're the final decision-maker.
You're the one who decides
what to do with it, and no one else."
Here’s a starter: “Listen, I appreciate your trying to help. I know you care…and I love you for it. But you need to realize that this is my body, I live inside of it every day and these are my decisions. I need for you to understand this and take it easy. You’re interfering and going overboard here. I’m choosing what treatments I want, and arguing over it is not helping either one of us. So it stops right here. I need your support, which means your understanding, whether you agree with my choices or not.”
2. Have a sit down, one-on-one conversation
If mentioning things upfront hasn’t eased the situation, then a sit down talk can be the next plan of action. Your wanting to meet and talk it out–if anything that should send a clear message that you’re serious. You can agree on a meeting place, and then just calmly let them know exactly how you feel.
If they do care, they should be willing to have this meeting. And of course, with no game playing–who has time for it? You’re in a healing process and that in itself can trigger those anxious moments. You sure don’t need a stubborn friend or family member causing trouble or making you angry, insecure or just plain weary.
3. Just politely ignore it. Remember that phrase, “in one ear, out the other?”
How about this…they can say what they want. And you proceed to do exactly what YOU want. That’s it.
And if they want to complain, once again, just calmly let it roll right off you. Truth is, we can’t please everyone. And we shouldn’t even try.
Just remember–in all fairness, you’ve tried to communicate. And it hasn’t made a dent–which is why you should go right ahead and do things your way. In fact, many times, when you follow your gut instincts and do what you feel is right, it can be deeply liberating. Try it! And remember, it’s your body. It’s your life. Your health is your own responsibility.
4. Keep Reading and Doing Your Research. Keep Networking and Meeting People.
I think one of the best ways to protect yourself is to keep moving forward with your research. Don’t stop reading and learning about your diagnosis, about better health…because there is SO MUCH to discover. I’m serious, you’ll be amazed!
Plus, why not take it a step further…and network. This is what I began to do in 2015, to reach out to and connect with others. How was it? A definite game-changer. Meet others who have been in your situation, who are still in your situation. Who also received a diagnosis and then opposition about their treatment choices. Get some insight into how they chose to handle it. If anything, it helps you realize that you’re not alone. It can even give you more fuel for standing your ground–and making it known that you’re the final decision-maker.
They'll have to accept that you're not the typical patient.
You have the courage to do your homework and seek answers to your questions.
To investigate integrative treatments and natural cancer-fighting protocols.
You're not afraid to ask questions. Good for you!
5. Write A Letter
There are times when, no matter how calmly you try to explain something, it won’t be heard. Some family or friends can be way too stubborn. Sometimes, just plain deaf.
So in this case, I think a letter can best express what you want to say. And here’s the plus side–with a letter, you won’t have to deal with the immediate interruptions that can happen. No episodes of overtalking you. In other words, you can present this clear letter that explains your reasons for your choices, and without those added hassles. PLUS, a letter is a lasting thing. It’s something they can physically hold onto, reread and hopefully, think about and understand.
6. Cease Communications. You Can Give Them A Warning…
What if you’ve tried the first 5 things, and they’re STILL discouraging you? Still hassling you nonstop? Then here’s what I say: it’s time for the adjustment move. Meaning cease communications.
No more visits. No more phone calls. No more text messages, emails…nothing. Not a thing. In all fairness, YOU HAVE TRIED…in 5 different ways. If none of those ways has worked–then that’s it. It’s time to go hardcore.
And if you’d like, you can tell them that. Openly. Let them know, “if you are going to be this stubborn, then look, I prefer that we don’t communicate for a while. This is about my health, and all this is doing is wrecking us both, causing us both stress. It’s really damaging us both. I need a break.”
What if they ask, “for how long?” Well basically, until you feel they’re more willing to listen to you, understand and respect your choices.
Have you ever had to explain to a friend or relative that they were becoming a bit overbearing?
Were there times when you felt misunderstood, even stressed out because they were challenging your decisions? Did you ever feel isolated and on your own?
How did you handle it? Did you let them know your feelings? Did you resolve your problem in any other way besides what I’ve listed? Or did you end up just cutting off communications? Or are you still wrestling with something like this? Listen, I’d love to know what you did or what you’re going through. Go ahead and leave your comments below.
Wait! More “Healthier You” Articles include: